Publication Abstracts

Stubenrauch et al. 1997

Stubenrauch, C.J., A.D. Del Genio, and W.B. Rossow, 1997: Implementation of subgrid cloud vertical structure inside a GCM and its effect on the radiation budget. J. Climate, 10, 273-287, doi:10.1175/1520-0442(1997)010<0273:IOSCVS>2.0.CO;2.

The GISS (Goddard Institute for Space Studies) GCM (general circulation model) predicts stratiform and convective cloud cover and optical thickness at nine atmospheric levels in horizontal grid boxes of 4° lat × 5° long. Until now, the radiative fluxes were calculated once per grid box, assuming clear sky or a complete cloud cover. Here, a refinement of the radiative flux calculation is explored by introducing a horizontal subgrid cloud overlap scheme in which cloud blocks are formed by adjacent cloud layers using maximum overlap. Different clouds blocks are separated by an atmospheric level of clear sky and are assumed to overlap randomly inside the grid box. This subgrid cloud structure allows determination of the occurrence probabilities of columns with different vertical structures inside each horizontal grid box. Then, radiative fluxes are calculated for each of these columns. The radiative fluxes of each horizontal grid box are obtained as the occurrence probability weighted sum of the column fluxes. Compared with the standard GCM version, the horizontal subgrid cloud overlap scheme leads to significant geographical and seasonal changes of the global mean cloud effects on top-of-atmosphere radiative fluxes that are in slightly better agreement with satellite observations. Two extreme assumptions of horizontal cloud size distributions (very small cloud elements or one horizontally continuous cloud) within the cloud blocks are also tested, leading to different column occurrence probabilities. Whereas the global and zonal mean cloud effects on radiative fluxes stay the same, regional differences between the two assumptions (i.e., uncertainties in GCM cloud cover and radiative fluxes produced by a lack of knowledge of subgrid cloud size distributions) can be as large as 15% in cloud cover and 25 (50) W/m2 in LW (SW) net fluxes.

The implemented cloud overlap scheme is necessary to study radiative effects of different cloud types separately so that one can better understand the discrepancies in cloud radiative effects between observations and model. This study is not possible with the standard version of the GCM because the instantaneous fluxes do not correspond to realistic cloud structures. But by comparing in more detail the radiative effects of high opaque, cirrus, midlevel, and low clouds with help of the new scheme in GCM and in simultaneous Earth Radiation Budget Experiment and International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project observations, one finds out that high opaque clouds in the GCM have a cloud cover that is too small and are too thin over winter hemisphere ocean, whereas cirrus clouds appear with a cloud cover that is too high. Low clouds in the GCM seem to be too low by about 100 hPa.

Export citation: [ BibTeX ] [ RIS ]

BibTeX Citation

  author={Stubenrauch, C. J. and Del Genio, A. D. and Rossow, W. B.},
  title={Implementation of subgrid cloud vertical structure inside a GCM and its effect on the radiation budget},
  journal={J. Climate},

[ Close ]

RIS Citation

ID  - st00800v
AU  - Stubenrauch, C. J.
AU  - Del Genio, A. D.
AU  - Rossow, W. B.
PY  - 1997
TI  - Implementation of subgrid cloud vertical structure inside a GCM and its effect on the radiation budget
JA  - J. Climate
VL  - 10
SP  - 273
EP  - 287
DO  - 10.1175/1520-0442(1997)010%3C0273%3AIOSCVS%3E2.0.CO;2
ER  -

[ Close ]

• Return to 1997 Publications

• Return to Publications Homepage